Featured Car: Punch One
Meet the Belgian Solar Team!
The Punch Powertrain Solar Team consists of 21 students, with the goal to build a competition-winning solar car in only 15 months. They aim to compete in various competitions, including the prestigious Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2017 in Australia. As most readers will know, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is a competition I am very familiar with myself and you can read about my own Australian driving adventure, collecting data for the Solar Team GB cruiser class car here.
Punch Powertrain Solar Team compete in the challenger class, where they build faster, aerodynamically-perfect cars that do not carry passengers. The competition is a real race for these teams and the cars are weird, wonderful and beautiful. The real challenge for the challenger class entries is the balancing of maximising their solar array, whilst optimising the aerodynamics- reducing drag- on the vehicle.
The team has 4 goals they have set out:
The promotion of renewable energy. Racing on solar energy generated by the solar panels on top of our solar car, serves as a very strong example of the possibilities of solar energy.
Generate interest among young people for science and technology. Together with different partners, we organise a yearly event called the Solar Olympics. We challenge all high school students of Flanders to build a solar car or solar powered gadget. After a couple of feedback sessions organised by us, they have the opportunity to exhibit their creation.
Promotion of advanced technologies. We combine some of the best Belgian technologies in our solar car.
Facilitate and encourage entrepreneurship. Every two years, the team members involved in building the solar car change. The alumni gathered over the past years come together on a regular basis to discuss sustainable solutions towards prevalent problems.
Punch One is the sixth car built by the Belgian team and will be on display at Evodays this summer. It weighs only 165kg and has a maximum speed of 130km/h. With only one battery charge, the Punch One can travel 500km.
Punch One Stats
Weight: 165 kg.
Max Speed: 130 km/h
Range on one battery charge: 500 km
Power: 5 kWh
Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2017 Challenger Class Spec
Max. Length: 5m
Max. Width: 2.2m
Max. Solar Array: 4m2
Stages: Single stage, Darwin to Adelaide
The route from Darwin to Adelaide is 3000km+ of Australian desert and heat. I know this first-hand, having driven the route in 2016 to prepare for driving in the challenge itself. The challenge comprises of mandatory check-points on the way and driving between sunlight hours only.
Although the road itself is straight and has no exciting curves that the average racing driver loves, driving the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge is an enormous feat for even a highly skilled driver. It is (very) hot and monotonous work, plus you need to have a real intuition for the vehicle, in order to spot any technical issues ahead of them manifesting. You don’t want to get stuck in the desert and have to be trailered onto the next check point. Plus, there are road trains (trucks with multiple carriages) to contend with and they can easily shut a light little solar car off the road with the turbulence they create.
However, Punch Powertrain Solar Team have certainly got a wealth of solar challenge experience and will surely have an excellent race strategy for 2017. They are one of the top contenders for a win in the challenger class.
You can watch the race report of the Punch One at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge 2015 here.
In 2016, the team also competed at the iLumen European Solar Challenge in Belgium, a unique 24 hour on-track challenge. After an exciting battle for position with the team from Bochum, they stormed to second place, with the team from Twente taking the victory. I was lucky to be in attendance of the race and it was fantastic to watch various strategies come together. Truly intelligent racing.
It’s safe to say that the latest Belgian solar car is going to be an exciting addition to their family of solar cars and I am intrigued to see how the new design has evolved from the Punch One.
You can meet Punch Powertrain Solar Team (and other teams) at Evodays this summer. If you would like to learn more about the team please see their website or follow them on social media:
Author: Beth Lily Georgiou